[Image Description: a close up photo showing a bright yellow maple leaf to the left, an orange-tinged oblong sassafras leaf toward the center, and a green black cherry leaf face-down along the top. All three are lying atop layers of other brown and fading leaves that have fallen to the forest floor.]
Newly fallen colors
drift to cover fading predecessors, layer after layer, various configurations, some cupped, holding rainwater, creating tiny windows to the sky.
and maples mix, soon to fade, decompose, provide nourishment to roots from soil instead of sun.
seasons, cycles, letting go to allow for new growth, to allow for understandings to develop, overlap, drift away, blend and turn and return,
Yet I almost never
remember I once learned to trust release and renewal, death and resurrection, and I cling, white-knuckled and exhausted, forgetting this is how room is made for something new.
Time moving at near-warp speed
no time to catch a breath, catch a break,
Ungrounded, unsettled, under water,
surface out of sight, floundering.
Every passing day, passing item checked off
on the way to the next one,
No time to take the side trail, get derailed,
listen to what your heart needs.
Hold your discontent with gentleness,
Be tender with your wavering soul.
Remember, seasons turn,
rush of autumn gives way
to slower, dormant evenings
and a little space to breathe.
Bless your noticing, your awareness,
your yearning for regrounding.
Your longing is a guide, a conduit,
a pathway back to yourself.
[Image description: a path in a woods in the fall. The photo is taken from a very low perspective, with the path in the foreground, covered in brown and yellow leaves, dividing in the background against a backdrop of trees with green and yellow fall leaves.]
A well-known anonymous quote reminds
that those who mispronounce a word most likely learned it by reading, without ever hearing it said aloud
and I wonder what is the equivalent for
living out an different way of being one has only read about, imagined, caught glimpses of without experiencing long term in real time.
Most structures, families, organizations
revolve around power, control, clinging to the same way of doing things even as we all know something’s off, not working.
Wanting desperately to chart a new course
but with only a compass to guide, a compass I know only from books always points true, but I’m unsure whose truth it is pointing to
and if it can point me to the truth I’m learning as I go
while also keeping me from veering back onto the well-traveled way that was modeled and whose inertia feels nearly impossible to overcome.
Everyone else on the same different course
is also learning as they go with navigational guides they’ve acquired by searching, not example, and it seems like there are too few, too far away.
I need the language, the guides, the practices
to communicate to others, to teach myself, but it always feels like pronouncing words the wrong way.
[Image description: Crabtree Falls in North Carolina. Photo shows a waterfall cascading down a rock face and continuing on over stones at the base. A smaller cascade is in the foreground with the water pooling in front. The water and rocks are framed on both sides by trees with leaves just beginning to change from green to yellow.]
Language of antagonism,
ubiquitous, who we are defined most often by what we are against.
transactional, interactions avoided with the unlike-minded.
Wondering what it might be like
to shift energy, to not be overcome, to turn in a new direction,
to let the undesired fade and fall and wash away,
to carry on
bringing nourishment to new destinations we can’t yet see.
[Image Description: a nature photo with large boulders in the foreground and a waterfall in the distance framed by trees with green foliage. In the center of the photo, an adolescent boy wearing black shorts, a tank top, backpack, and blue hat is partially silhouetted against the waterfall, jumping between two large rocks.]
shifts lead to freefalling into experimental moments, making best guesses in an attempt to cultivate
an inner knowing, an understanding of healthy connection you’re still trying to learn yourself.
turning over tables to build something new, create a new arc out of gleaned wisdom and hope.
to navigate uncertainty, knowing successes and failures will only be visible in hindsight.
[ Image Description: close up of a blanket flower, which has a center of yellow ringed by dark red, and multiple oblong petals fanning out from the center that are all red, tipped with bright yellow.]
I wanted to write a poem
but I listened to an audiobook and weeded the zinnias and repotted some plants and tried to figure out why I sometimes parrot things I’ve heard a thousand times but do not actually believe.
I wondered how to shift
from default reactions to thoughtful responses when those defaults feel so ingrained and I have so little precedent for expressing more newly-acquired ideals.
I watered the blanket flowers
and kale and lamented the tomatoes I neglected to harvest before they became suitable only for compost and thought about ways we perpetuate unhelpful patterns because transformation is slow and difficult and trying a new direction involves risk.
I wanted to write a poem
but I tended to plants and got lost in thoughts and now it’s late and I should be helping make dinner but there are so many things I want to change.
[Image description: close-up of Sassafras tree three-pronged leaves, beginning to change from green to red and rust fall foliage.]
May you give yourself the gift of idleness
to nap, meander, simply take a break.
Consider the lilies and birds, trees and fields,
bask in their wise teachings.
Let yourself fade from view, seek refuge,
change, let go, lie fallow.
Cultivate ease, and call it good.
Cease to strive, and call it beauty.
Gaze at the clouds or the moon or the falling leaves
and lose yourself in wonder.
Leave the to-do list in the drawer, email unanswered,
there are other times for doing.
You are enough.
You deserve rest.
No messy room or unpaid bill or daydreaming afternoon
changes your inherent worth.
Gift yourself times of leisure, stillness, being,
and bless the seasons for showing the way.
[Image description: several branches with bright green clusters of large, oblong pawpaw leaves in the foreground with woods in the background. A few patches of blue sky are visible behind the trees and the sun is gleaming through the pawpaw leaves in the upper left of the photo.]
Today words are scarce,
mind too tired from a too-busy week. Meander in the woods to settle, regroup, rest.
through pawpaw leaves on fall-tinged breezes, the only poetry in reach.
[Image Description: Close-up photo of dark-colored, oblong seeds in the palm of a hand. The background of the photo is the green and yellow foliage of a garden.]
Waning garden in late summer sun,
standing, bare feet in soil, begrudgingly admiring the efficiency of a hornworm on the lucky tiger tomato plant I brought home from the farmer’s market in Spring.
The seedling grew out of control
while we were away in July, latent efforts to curtail its spread unsuccessful enough there’s an overflowing bowl of red-tinged harvest on the kitchen table.
I decide to cede the branch
and the two partly-nibbled fruit to the bright green caterpillar’s lunch.
Turning to the fading cosmos,
reaching out to grasp a dried, star-like cluster, previously a delicate white flower, and marveling at the seeds across my palm.
The potential for infinite
future seasons of blossoms from a single bloom.
Pausing, drinking in this interruption
of scarcity-obsessed, commodified structures, savoring this oasis of abundance, while my breath becomes a blessing and a prayer.
[Image Description: grainy black and white photo of a woman with medium-length straight hair. The picture shows her from the shoulders up, wearing a white shirt against a black background. The image is sideways with her head toward the left side of the frame. Her face is turned to the side, with shadows obscuring the side of her face and her eyes looking back toward the camera.]
The mirror reflects my eyes,
the same dark-rimmed irises,
but behind them are flames, heart on fire,
burning away what is not me.
Inherited facades turning to ash
while I wait to see if I’m a phoenix
or a moon or a tide
or the whole damn sky.